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Oil Industry to Act on Methane and Flaring, COP28 Chief Says

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Large swathes of the global oil industry will pledge to eliminate methane emissions and gas flaring by the end of the decade, the president of the COP28 climate summit said.

More than 20 oil and gas producers, from both the private and state sectors, have made the commitment alongside setting targets to reach net zero by 2050, Sultan Al Jaber said at the Adipec oil and gas exhibition in Abu Dhabi on Monday. He did not name the companies. Tackling methane emissions is seen as a quick and effective climate solution because ton-for-ton it’s a far more potent agent of global warming than carbon dioxide in the short term.

Al Jaber’s presidency of the United Nations-sponsored talks has sparked controversy because he’s also head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., one of the world’s largest crude producers. He has argued the existing energy industry must play a role in a successful energy transition.

“This industry can and must help drive the solutions,” Al Jaber said in a speech. “For too long, this industry has been viewed as part of the problem, that it’s not doing enough and in some cases even blocking progress. This is your opportunity to show the world that, in fact, you are central to the solution.”

As well as rapid progress on reducing emissions from oil and gas production, the other two areas of focus for this year’s COP are speeding up the deployment of renewables and developing technology to abate emissions from energy-intensive industries like cement, Al Jaber said.

This year’s COP takes place in Dubai in late November and early December and is expected to be more welcoming to representatives of the oil industry that previous versions of the event. 

Speaking on a panel at Adipec, leading oil and gas chief executive officers including Wael Sawan of Shell Plc and Patrick Pouyanne of Total Energies SE said that methane and flaring were two areas where the industry could demonstrate rapid progress even as oil and gas remains a significant part of the energy mix for decades to come.

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